Merced Irrigation District, the agency that oversees several dams and a huge network of canals that deliver water to local farmers, has one open seat this election season. At stake in this rough-and-tumble contest is the balance of power on a board often split 3-2 on crucial votes. It's also at odds about management style, financial decisions and transparency.
The outcome of the election may seem unimportant to none-farmers, but the district's future is inextricably linked to Merced County. Ground water levels for thirsty cities, the local farming economy and the control of several dams on the Merced River are all in the hands of MID.
This week Off the 99 brought the two candidates -- long-time board member Jack Hooper and challenger Dave Long -- to the studio for a discussion and debate about their merits for the office.